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Rug makers go natural for added sales

Using nothing but 100 percent pure natural fibers, manufacturers and importers of rugs are going natural with new constructions and fabrications like hemp, jute, sea grass and coir.

Kas Oriental Rugs, based in Somerset, NJ, is making natural fibers the "highlight" of its introductions for this market with two new collections.

Ambiance, a high-low, hand-tufted and hooked combination of scatter rugs made of 100 percent wool, is available in 30 different designs and three sizes. Also new is a complete line of natural fiber products — from scatter rugs to room-size rugs — in jute, sisal, hemp and sea grass all dyed in natural colors, imported from India.

"We went this route because of a combination of reasons — the many requests we got from retailers, and the big hype in casual home decor," said Wendy Reiss, account manager. "Retailers want a product that can be priced lower and used in a casual home environment."

Kas said its new jute, sisal, hemp and sea grass rugs can retail for $199 for a 6' x 9', "making them very affordable," Reiss added.

Honing in on a "new opportunity in jute fibers," New York-based Park B. Smith will introduce a new collection. The Nature Spa collection includes jute rugs in assorted textures and weaves and in sizes as big as 5' x 8' — representing Park B. Smith's largest rug size ever. The new tufted and carved geometric patterned rugs are made of 100 percent cotton and are available in four patterns and colorways: blue, sage, cocoa and pastel.

"Our inspiration came from the trend in spa decor and wanting the feeling of having the natural grasses and jutes on the floor for that spa look and comfort," said Valborg Linn, director of design and merchandising. "It's that island tropical trend we see that has inspired our development of a wide variety of jute rugs."

Cartersville, GA-based Lacey Mills was "pleasantly surprised" when it set out to produce its Studio collection, made of nylon and olefin, and discovered that it has resulted in a sisal-looking product, said Karen Townsend, design director. Now, the company is pitching the Studio collection as sisal-like.

"Sisal has a neutral quality that is consistent," she said. "With all the hardwood and ceramic flooring popping up in homes these days, people are looking for more differentiated product that is still neutral."

Greensboro, NC-based Bacova Guild Ltd.'s new Koko Ridge collection of mats is made of a 100 percent natural coir fabric and comes in extra-large sizes like 24" x 40".

"Bigger is better, especially when it is less expensive," said Jeff Norden, mat business manager. "This mat is engineered to be larger than normal mats but is 30 percent less at retail at $20 to $25."

Under its recently forged licensing partnership with longtime tabletop manufacturer Pfaltzgraff, New York-based Windham Weavers, an accent, scatter and area rug and table linen importer, is introducing a series of new rugs in natural fibers: cotton-and-chenille blends; tapestry; jute; and coir.

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